By Debbie Carson, Online Editor
FELLSMERE – The Indian River County Historical Society appears willing to give the Marian Fell Library to the City of Fellsmere in an effort to save the non-profit approximately $35,000 annually.
The society’s board met with Fellsmere City Manager Jason Nunemaker Monday evening to discuss the city’s proposition – convey the library and grounds to the city to save money. If approved, the city would inherit the costs of maintenance, insurance and operation, for which the society is currently responsible.
The library has been “a great joy for us to have,” said Indian River County Historical Society President Arlene Fletcher, “but it’s a great expense to have.” Members of the board decided to take a couple weeks to review the city’s proposal and get answers to a few questions that arose before taking a vote.
Fletcher told her fellow board members that she’d like for the group to decide before the end of the month – which is the end of their fiscal year.
One such question hinges on taxes. One member expressed concern that the conveying the property and the library to the city might impact the non-profit’s tax status.
While Fletcher expressed doubt that it would, the member was asked to check into it.
Another member, Richard Votapka, said that he needed time to review the couple-page document before feeling comfortable with approving the plan.
The city has plans to continue running the Marian Fell Library as a library dedicated to Fellsmere’s history. Patrons could come to read the historic materials, but would not be allowed to check them out. The library would also serve as a museum.
The Marian Fell Library is expected to still rely on volunteers to run the library and offer programs for children as it currently does under the Indian River County Historical Society’s ownership. However, volunteers would contact the City of Fellsmere instead of the society if the city were to receive the property.
As for the materials housed at the library, Nunemaker said that the city would like to see as much of the items pertaining to Fellsmere’s history stay as possible – but recognizes that the society owns them.
Member Votapka mentioned taking an inventory of the items and having the society take those items out of the library that the group wishes to retain.
President Fletcher asked that Nunemaker draft another agreement between the city and the Indian River County Historical Society about the use of the library’s materials.
City Manager Nunemaker told the group that there was no time frame on the city’s end in removing materials from the library. The society would be allowed to take its time in going through the materials to decide what can stay and what needs to be removed.
Nunemaker also discussed the possibilities for the property surrounding the library. The city, as part of its Community Redevelopment Area, could implement on-street parking near the library and install period lighting on the site to enhance the historic ambiance.
The city, too, could consider relocating other historical structures to the surrounding property.
“That would be interesting to do,” Nunemaker said.